Meet Later Dad: Tom LaMarr

Tom LaMarr head shotNAME:  Tom LaMarr
AGE:  “A youthful 61”
RESIDENCE:  Colorado
CHILDREN: Evelyn, an even more youthful 13

The median age for becoming a parent has climbed, and Tom LaMarr is the reason. This Colorado dad was nearly 48 when he met his daughter, which makes him even older now. GEEZER DAD, his memoir about getting that late start, has been getting good reviews, and was recently named one of 2015’s Best Adoption Books by ADOPTIVE FAMILIES magazine. Tom is also the author of two acclaimed novels, with a third due early in 2017.  Visit to learn more about GEEZER DAD, train hopping, bear wrestling, and how Tom’s first novel came to the aid of Jerry Seinfeld.

What was your road to parenthood like? Rocky, winding, and ultimately rewarding.  It was also much longer than we had anticipated, because my wife, Sam, and I got stuck at more than a few forks, unable to agree on the best path forward.  Before starting, we had already waited several years by choice, thinking it couldn’t be that hard to become slightly older parents.  But a miscarriage showed us that nature was not going to cooperate, and four years passed before we finally accepted domestic adoption as the best choice for us.  There was still some waiting after that, of course, but at least we felt more certain of the outcome.

How does being a dad influence your work? It certainly breaks up my day, seeing that I – the work-at-home writer – was promoted to chauffeur some time ago.  On a more serious note, I do know that being a dad has made me a better writer by letting me tap into reserves of patience and understanding I never realized were there.

Geezer Cover FinalWhat was your motivation to write GEEZER DAD? Back when Sam and I were staring down those tough decisions, we read many books about parenting, infertility, and adoption.  I kept waiting for someone to hand me one about getting a late start at parenting, but no one ever did.  I finally realized I’d have to write it myself.  There really was a hole there, and I think this book fills it, by giving others on that same road some useful information and support.  It also boasts a few chapters that critics have called “sidesplitting” and “hilarious” (sorry, but decorum prevents me from making such claims myself) and if I have learned nothing else in this life, it’s that a sense of humor is necessary to surviving any challenge.  It’s certainly something you need as a parent.

Do you think it’s tough to balance parenting, a personal life and professional pursuits? It can be hard, but I never really thought we could have it all.  I knew there were things we’d be giving up.  But while those pre-kid days may have offered more freedom, there’s so much more I don’t miss.

As for making sacrifices, I remember the first time we went out after baby Evelyn came along.  A good friend had offered to babysit, and we had tickets to a play downtown.  At intermission, we made the mistake of checking in with our friend, only to learn that conditions had deteriorated.  Before I finished asking, “Should we come home?” he said, “That might be good.”  We missed the rest of the play, so I’ve always had to assume Romeo and Juliet got together at the end and lived happily ever after.

What advice would you offer to multi-tasking overwhelmed moms and dads? Keep plugging away …  and make sure you take time to savor the good stuff.  A hug from a loving kid goes a long way toward making up for not being able to go out whenever you want.  Also, enjoy that transition from watching Barney and Teletubbies to Up and Toy Story 3.  Seriously.  Who would have guessed there were so many great animated movies out there?

How do you achieve balance?  I enjoy our time together, and enjoy my time alone.  Sam and I have long taken turns reading with Evelyn in the evenings.  On the nights I’m not reading, I relax by playing or listening to music, or reading books that might not appeal to a thirteen-year-old. On the nights I’m reading with her, I remind myself I’m still lucky she enjoys sharing this time with Dad.  Someday, I know, I will miss this.

geezerfamilyWhat do you see as the challenges and positives of having a child at an older age? The biggest challenge by far is staying healthy and sticking around.  I want to watch my daughter flourish in her twenties and thirties, and the actuarial tables are probably not stacked in my favor.  But if anything, this inspires me to take better care of myself.  As noted in GEEZER DAD, I have no plans to go anywhere before I have moved furniture into Evelyn’s first apartments and masterminded the mysterious disappearance of an unsuitable boyfriend or two.

As for benefits, there are far too many to mention here.  The biggest, as you have probably already gathered, is that I don’t take things for granted. I tend to savor the moment, and appreciate the good things that come my way. On a practical note, I can confirm it’s true that older parents are more prepared and organized. We’re ready for emergencies; we have financial plans and insurance policies. We’re also more careful. We don’t text while driving, and when we collide with drivers who do, we’re the ones wearing seat belts.

Has anything about being a dad surprised you? There have been so many surprises, beginning with how natural it felt to be a parent. Then, there was making it through those first few months, while dealing with sleep deprivation that could easily take out a much younger man. Since then, I’ve been surprised to see just how many older parents there are. I never feel old when I go to events at Evelyn’s school, and her best friend’s dad is older than I am!

The biggest and best surprise, though, was that life could still surprise me – and continues to do so today.

Geezer Abroad (1)What are your biggest wishes for your daughter’s future? I want her to stay interesting and interested. I want her to be loving and loved, appreciative and appreciated.  Nothing would make me happier than to watch her become a grownup version of the creative, curious kid who has already brought so much joy into this world.

Is there anything special you want to teach her? I think we already helped her embrace her own love of learning. That’s the big one for me – for her to hold onto that sense of wonder she helped the rest of us rediscover.

Did you pick up any special parenting skills or approaches from your own parents – anything that really resonated with you? To be honest, nothing is coming to mind right now… my three brothers and I were your basic free-range kids. They shoved us out the door each morning, hoping that, were it a school day, we’d find our way there, and were it the weekend, we wouldn’t break any serious laws. If three of us made it back home come evening, they considered the day a success.  But skip forward to the present, and my mom’s still around. She moved to Colorado when Evelyn was two so she could be part of her last grandchild’s life.  She’s a truly outstanding grandma, and a pretty good stand-in chauffeur. Needless to say, I hope she passed some of that longevity and energy along to me.

Geezer Abroad (2)Do you have any particular memories from your own childhood that inspire you to make memories with your daughter? Our family vacations were always special.  We enjoyed seeing new places, and we had fun together.  Ours is a semi-open adoption, and when Sam and I first met the birth mother, she told us she had never seen the ocean.  She did not want this to be true for Evelyn.  Since then, our kid has seen the Atlantic and Pacific from both their eastern and western shores. She’s been to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and watched her parents try to hide their confusion while figuring out the Shanghai subway system. We’re also good about staying close to other family members, having thoroughly familiarized ourselves with several interstate highways to make sure Evelyn knows her cousins, aunts, and uncles.

What words of wisdom would you like to share for someone contemplating fatherhood over age 35? Always be honest with yourself. When you’re making choices, remember they will last two lifetimes: yours and your child’s. Also, if you’re ever on the fence, wondering if parenting is really going to be worth it, I know a book you can read. Or you can just take my word for it: becoming a dad was the best thing I ever did.

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